Thursday, June 27, 2013

Love Denim!

I love denim. I have quite a few pairs of jeans by Diane Gilman, my favorite designer who knows how to dress women's bodies. And I also have a number (not saying what number) of denim jackets in a variety of colors and designs – my favorite being the traditional indigo.

One thing I've learned by watching "What Not to Wear" is that I don't want to be too matchy-matchy, so I rarely wear denim sets. Instead, I pair the jackets with other items in my closet. You can update almost any classic piece by wearing it with denim.
Photo courtesy of Ageluk1222/

Denim jacket with a skirt – Denim is no longer reserved for casual days, so you can wear a denim jacket in the place of a blazer.

Jean jacket over a short dress – Have your denim ready to slip over your shoulders for cold days at the office.

Jean jacket over your maxi dress – Be on trend by pairing denim with your ankle skimming maxi dress.

Denim over a formal gown – Give your special night out an edgy look by adding a youthful jean jacket. Dark wash is best for formal occasions.

Denim with any pants – You can wear any shade of denim with whatever pants you own. Today's trend is very flexible, so your jacket can be longer than your shirt or cropped to show the cuteness of a tunic underneath.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Staying Fit

As someone who always worked out, I know the value of staying fit. It's not always easy, but being active is essential to live a long, healthy life. Writing is such a sedentary profession, so I have to plan my fitness everyday. Fortunately I don't have to nag my husband to get out of his chair because he's rarely in it. After he retired from being a financial advisor, he became a certified personal fitness trainer, and he also works as a golf coach for the First Tee program.

You don't have to pay an expensive membership fee at a gym, although if that's what it takes to get you active, by all means go for it. However, if you don't want to spend the money, there are things you can do that cost little or nothing.

Here are some ideas:
  • Go for long walks and enjoy the sounds and smells of nature.
  • Pick up a fitness DVD by your favorite exercise expert and set aside the time each day to work out in front of your TV.
  • Jump on a rebounder (mini trampoline) while you watch the shows you recorded the night before. You'll feel like a kid again.
  • Go to the mall before the stores open and walk back and forth until you reach your daily distance goal.
  • Download your favorite upbeat music and dance around your house.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


My heart aches. Earlier this month I learned that one of my closest friends and former next door neighbors tragically lost her oldest son, a young man who was passionate about life. He was one of those guys who seemed older than his years when he was a teenager and more youthful as he aged. He laughed easily and made everyone around him feel comfortable. The phrase "He never met a stranger" was written for people like him.

As tempting as it is to ramble on and on about my feelings, that's not what I think is appropriate right now. All I want to do now is remind you to hug those you love and don't forget to tell them how much you appreciate them. Cherish the time you have together.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Getting the House Ready to Sell

My husband and I have been talking about selling our house and moving closer to our adult daughters who live in the Carolinas – one in North Carolina and the other in South Carolina. We’ve been in Florida for quite a while, and I know I’ll miss it here. However, the pull to our daughters is much stronger than the tropical climate.

So we started talking about all the things we needed to do. First, we went online and checked out housing in South Carolina – the state we chose because the climate is more similar to where we are – and we liked what we saw. Next, we talked with our realtor and friend who said she thought we could do well in today’s housing market. Whew! At least that has turned around.
Our house right after we got the new roof.

And then we took a long look around at what we need to do to get our house ready for sale. It’s painfully obvious that we have a ton of work to do. For the past 10-1/2 years we have truly lived in this house. We’ve spread out, kept things we thought we might need someday, and then forgot about them. Wally and I each have our own stashes of things that mean something to us – things we don’t need but want to keep anyway. I think that’s fine, but we know we have to get the stuff out of the way so potential buyers won’t turn around and run, thinking they’re on an episode of “Hoarders.” Actually, we’re not really that bad, but no one would ever mistake our house for a model home. That said, we have a clean house with mostly neutral colors, so it shouldn't be difficult for people to imagine placing their own things here.

Whoever buys our house will benefit from all the things we’ve had to do over the past couple of years. First, we replaced our old water heater two years ago. Earlier this year we had a new 50-year roof installed. And then this month we got a new central air and heat unit. Those are costly items that we hope buyers will consider when shopping for their next home.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Some of My Favorite Blogs

When I get up in the morning, the first thing I do after checking my email is make the rounds of my favorite blogs. Some of them are writing related, while others are just people who write things I enjoy reading.

Here are a few of them:

  • Just the Write Charisma - Fiction authors who are contracted with Charisma House take turns blogging. I'm one of them. My first book with Charisma House, Missing Dixie, will be released in Spring 2014.
  • Steve Laube Literary Agency - My agent Tamela Hancock Murray is with the Laube agency. Steve, Tamela, and agent Karen Ball take turns posting industry news and information.
  • Seekerville - A group of authors who have interesting things to say. They also do author and publishing professional interviews.
  • Cherie Burbach - My very creative friend Cherie blogs about her art, friendship, dating, and many other things that are very girly. 
  • Rachelle Gardner - Rachelle is another agent who shares her thoughts about publishing.
  • BlogHer - This blogger has some really good household tips that are easy to follow.
  • Joe Konrath - Joe is a writer who went "indie" after a long career with a traditional publisher.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Happy National Yo-Yo Day!

There's something about the Yo-Yo that makes me smile. Perhaps it brings back memories of my childhood when the Duncan Yo-Yo was the rage. I played with my pink sparkling light-up Yo-Yo until I mastered the baby in the cradle, the sleeper, and pop-the-clutch moves. When my own children came along, it had lost some of its appeal, and they didn't get what I thought was so cool about it.
Photo courtesy of Mzacha/

Maybe if I'd added a power button and some sounds it would have been more interesting. Or if it had a keyboard or camera, they might have seen some value in it. The basic Yo-Yo - a couple of round plastic pieces that went up and down on a string - could be seen as something silly and boring. Or perhaps it's a piece of Americana that will forever live in the hearts and minds of people who remember a simpler time. Am I starting to sound like my grandmother? Eek!

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Few Random Helpful Household Hints

I'm always trying to find ways to make life easier. I hate wasting anything, and I don't always have tools and products specific to each need, so I'm always looking up alternatives on the Internet.

Here are a few helpful hints I've found:

Tomatoes - If you need to use fresh peeled tomatoes in a recipe, you may have discovered that they're difficult to peel. Boil some water and remove the pot from the stove. Dip the tomatoes in the water and leave them for about 30 seconds. When you remove them from the hot water, they should be every easy to peel. In fact, the peeling will probably come right off in your hand when you touch them.

Animal hair removal - I love animals, but I don't like wearing their fur on the seat of my black pants. Back when we had a dog and 2 long-haired cats, we were always trying to de-fur the furniture. If your lint roller has run out of stickiness, put on a rubber glove and swipe it across the furniture. You should be able to get quite a bit of the hair with that. For more stubborn, hard-to-remove fur, you can wet the glove and take another swipe.

Fabric softener sheets - When you get bugs stuck on your car, it's best to remove them as quickly as possible, but sometimes they're stubborn. Don't use heavy-duty abrasives, or you'll ruin your paint. Instead, dampen a dryer sheet and place it on the bug. Leave it for about 5 minutes and then just wipe it away. You can do the same thing to remove tree sap.

Cat Litter - If you see an oil stain on the pavement after you move your car, sprinkle the spot liberally with cat litter. Leave it for a couple of days before sweeping it up. The litter is absorbent and makes the stain disappear without too much work.

Dryer lint - You can use dryer lint for a variety of things:

  1. Refresh old stuffed animals that have gone flat by splitting one of the seams and filling it with dryer lint. Hand stitch the seam closed.
  2. Wad up the lint and put it in the bottom of flowerpots before adding dirt. The water will drain without taking the soil with it.
  3. Glue it on your kids' posters to make clouds in varying shades of gray. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pretty Is as Pretty Does - Released!

This is the official release month of the first book in my Class Reunion series, and I am beside myself with excitement! I actually have butterflies in my tummy because these are stories that begged to be told, and I really want readers to enjoy them as much as I loved writing them. As I lived with each character in the story, I found the lines between reality and fiction often blurred.

Here are a few tidbits about each person in my story:
  • Priscilla - voted "Most Likely to Succeed" in high school but dropped out of college to pursue a career in beauty. An only child of two college professors, she grew up constantly trying to please her mother but was unwilling to compromise on her future. 
  • Tim - madly in love with Priscilla. This beauty supply salesman will do anything to win over his favorite hairdresser, including do all the go-fer work for the reunion committee even though he didn't attend Piney Point High School.
  • Trudy - former class beauty queen and Miss Everything in Piney Point. Now that she's divorced, she is forced into a life she never wanted but discovers some joy in being self-sufficient. However, she still backslides to keep up the image she had in high school.
  • Celeste - class wallflower and sourpuss. Who knew there was a beautiful woman beneath the dour expression and dowdy clothes? Priscilla brought out the best...and the worst in this woman.
  • Laura - most put-upon woman who ever graduated from Piney Point High School. She married the class drunk, had four kids fairly quickly, and volunteered to chair the reunion committee. And now she can't figure out why life is so difficult, and she's always a mess.

I hope you enjoy each person's journey in these books, starting with Pretty Is as Pretty Does. You may order these books from the following places: